Were Did Wedding Customs Come From

When planning a wedding the list of rituals and ceremonies to cover can actually get quite long.    A white wedding dress, matching bridesmaids dresses,  wedding veils,  something borrowed something blue,  rings on the fourth finger of the left hand,  wedding cakes and sayings like tying the knot and giving your hand in marriage.    What about the bouquet, the garter toss??  All of these rituals and ceremonies have a history and a beginning.  Most are steeped in folk lore and involve good luck and protection from evil spirits.

Where did all of these things come from?

1. The custom of placing rings on the fourth finger of the left hand came from the Egyptians who believed that there is a vein of love that runs from from the heart to the fourth finger on the left hand signifying both the union of the hands and hearts.

2. Queen Victoria is credited with starting the Western world’s white wedding dress trend in 1840 — before then, brides simply wore their best dress.

3:  Custom of the Eternity Ring.  The custom of the eternity ring is thousands of years old and dates back to ancient Egypt.  Wedding eternity rings are designed to symbolize the never-ending circle of both love and life.  The Egyptians believed that love was eternal and was stronger than death.

bridesmaid

 

4. If your bridesmaids are less than thrilled about matching dresses, tell them they’re good luck! The tradition of matching maids dates back to Roman times, when people believed evil spirits would attend the wedding in attempt to curse the bride and groom (how rude). Bridesmaids were required to dress exactly like the bride in order to confuse the spirits and bring luck to the marriage (source).

5. On a similar note, brides traditionally wear veils because ancient Greeks and Romans believed they protected her from evil spirits (source).

6. Tossing the Bouquet.  Tossing the bouquet is a tradition that stems from England. Women used to try to rip pieces of the bride’s dress and flowers in order to obtain some of her good luck. To escape from the crowd the bride would toss her bouquet and run away.   Sounds terrifying to me.

7. The original version of the Wedding Cake could give you a headache.  One of the first traditions began in Ancient Rome where bread was broken over the bride’s head to bring good fortune to the couple. In Medieval England cakes were stacked as high as possible for the bride and groom to kiss over.

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8. Ever wondered where the phrase “tying the knot” came from? In medieval days couples hands were bound together or hand fasted.  It may have been a year before the local cleric or priest came though the celtic village so the couple would bind their hands together in a small ceremony before the community to pledge their love and committment to each other and to be hand fast or to tie the knot.

handfasting

 

10. Where did the Honey Moon come from? “Honeymoon” also has origins that date back to the 5th century, when cultures represented calendar time with moon cycles. Back then, a newlywed couple drank mead (the “honey”) during their first moon of marriage. Mead is a honey-based alcoholic drink believed to have aphrodisiac properties.

In some very early honeymoon origins, including (but not just) Scandinavian, it involves kidnapping.  Many brides were kidnapped by their grooms.  They were then hidden away for months, until either their family stopped looking for them or they became pregnant (and thus it was considered too late for the marriage to be nullified) (source).

11:  History of the bridal bouquet.  The custom of carrying bouquets originated in ancient times, when it was believed that carrying or wearing strong-smelling herbs and spices would ward off evil spirits, ill health and bad luck. Later, Romans extended this tradition, when the bride and groom both wore garland made of herbs and spices that were expected to bring good luck and fertility. An actual bouquet came to symbolize a bride in bloom.

 

wedding-bouquetTraditional Celtic bouquets included ivy, thistle and heather. If a bride carried sage, the flower of wisdom, she was to become wise. If she carried dill, the flower of lust, well, she became lusty (if that’s a word). Flower girls would carry sheaves of wheat, which symbolized growth and fertility (Source).

12:  Diamonds are Forever?  Until the 19th century, all sorts of gems and stones were given to symbolise betrothal,  even thimbles.  The use of the diamond as an engagement ring really came about through a successful advertising campaign.  In the 1930s, when demand for diamond rings declined in the U.S. during hard economic times, the De Beers Company began an aggressive marketing campaign using photographs of glamorous movie stars swathed in diamonds. Within three years, the sales of diamonds had increased by 50 percent.

In 1947, De Beers launched its now classic slogan, “A Diamond is Forever.” This campaign spurred even more sales. The implied durability of a diamond conveyed the meaning in the American psyche that marriage is forever. A diamond’s purity and sparkle have now become symbols of the depth of a man’s commitment to the woman he loves in practically all corners of the world.

I hope you found this as interesting as I did.  Lisa.

 

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